Category Archives: Personal

2017 Goals

One of my goals for this coming year (like every year) is to write more here. I tend to write a bunch of drafts and never feel like they are good enough to actually publish. But, I’m going to try to start writing anything, even if it’s a post saying that I don’t want to write anything, once a week.

So, here is a list of my 2017 goals. They’re all things I’ve been contemplating/working on already, and are pretty attainable.

  • Be more organized…desk and office
  • Language learning…Duolingo daily, starting with German. Goals of either every day for 6 months or finish the German tree.
  • Morning pages daily
  • Use time better…schedule each day out more…spend less time on social media/Reddit
  • Be more active during the day
  • Blood work…have it done every 6 or 12 months
  • Meditate more regularly
  • January goal of writing down daily gratitude

Well, we’re 6 days into the new year and my list is going okay. Unfortunately, Tuesday I came down with the worst cold and didn’t want to get out of bed. Thursday, my throat felt like sandpaper, so the whole “being more active” thing hasn’t been going so well. Same with being more organized. I just put all the extra papers and crap on the floor next to my desk. The office is still a mess from Christmas crafts, but I want to get it all cleaned up as soon as I don’t feel like I’m dying.

I’m going to give myself credit for using time effectively. Yes, that meant doing the bare minimum of work and then napping, but it’s what I need to do right now. I bought a Happy Planner and like it so far. (I will never ever ‘scrapbook’ my planner…no cute emoji stickers here.) I originally bought a Bloom Daily planner since it has goal setting pages, but I couldn’t get over the square-ish size, so I put it up on eBay.

I also started the year off strong meditating for the first 3 days (plus days before the new year), and then fell asleep at 7 for the next two days so I didn’t end up doing it.

I’v been using Duolingo for the past month to work on German, so that is going well. I haven’t missed a day yet. I was hoping to have German done in 6 months, but from what I read, that seems too fast. Danish is next on the list unless they have Greek done for the app by then. I started just doing it on my phone, but then I went back and wrote down notes of everything and it’s really helping to retain it.

I ordered two blood tests through WellnessFX to have done now and again in 6-12 months. I wanted to do it earlier in the week, but didn’t want to fast and then drive the 30 mins to Quest Diagnostics. I have plans to go today though.

Morning pages and gratitude have also been going relativity well. I printed out a “Today, I am thankful for…” sheet with 30 lines to fill in and I’ve stuck with it. I started doing morning pages (writing 3-ish pages of anything when you first get up) after reading The Artist’s Way, but it’s really hard for my to stick with. I joke that I’m allergic to morning pages. So far, I’ve written every day though.

A tool that has helped me stay on track and visualize what I need/want to get done has been Habitica. It’s an app/website that helps you create better habits or break bad habits by making in into a game. You create your character and list your habits, daily goals, and one time to-dos, and you get points when you check them off. You can level up your character, battle bosses, and a bunch of other fun things. The game aspect is pretty cool, I like the rewards of finding items, but it also just helps a lot to have a checklist that I can see (I have it on my phone, but also always leave it open in a browser tab) and that resets every day.

Do you have any new years goals or resolutions? Do you usually stick to them?

What I Learned at my First Protest

Circus Protest
Last week, I went to protest the use of animals for entertainment, specifically in the Ringling Brothers Circus. It was my first time going to such a gathering, actually I don’t think I’ve ever been to any event that had protesters at it at all. I was nervous, yet excited. I had planned to go last year, but had come up with excuses not to go at the last minute.

Now, the main purpose of wanting to go was to stand up for the animals that are confined in cages for most of their lives and “trained” with whips and bullhooks, but it was also a huge learning experience for me. I was apprehensive to go at first because I detest confrontation. I avoid it at all costs, so how am I going to tell someone they are wrong for bringing their children to the circus? What if someone came up to me and asked a question I couldn’t answer, or what if there was actual violence? One’s food choices and subsequent support of animal abuse ranks right up there with religion and politics when it comes to heated topics. Did I mention I hate confrontation?

I decided that even if I stood there and held a sign and said absolutely nothing – that was okay. Same with if I went for 15 minutes and left feeling uncomfortable – at least I gave the experience a try.

So, I got to Hershey’s Chocolate World and wondered around a bit aimlessly looking for the meeting spot, until I met Olivia and Barb. They were super friendly, which was comforting. We walked to the spot in front of the Giant Center where people were already lining up and buying programs. The Giant Center has a 10’x10′ square that protesters are allowed to stand in.

I grabbed two signs, one that read ” They perform out of fear” and another that read “Caged and enraged. Whipped for your entertainment” with a picture of a caged tiger. Almost immediately a woman in a pink shirt came up to us (not me directly) and yelled “get a life!”, in a very passionate manner. She had a friend/family member calm her down and tell her “it’s not worth it” or something along those lines. I don’t even think I had picked up a sign yet and was a bit surprised at how angry she was. Not violent in any way, just angry. (Apparently at other showtimes two non protesters had to be escorted away by security for getting out of hand.)

Throughout the time there, some people in the group spoke up that the animals are abused and forced to perform, and that the elephants are being taken out, that the rest of the animals should be too. I felt more comfortable holding a sign and smiling at people. I learned a few things in my short amount of time standing there, one was that a lot of people made eye contact and smiled back. Almost a shocking amount of people. I expected people to either avoid eye contact and ignore us, or possibly to be angry.

Another thing that I noticed was that while a lot of adults did walk a little faster and ignore the group, kids were super curious. Children between 6-12 years old would stand still to read the signs. One girl asked her mom what was going on and the mother just ushered her away. I assume that most of the kids forgot about the people holding the signs out front once they were in the building with all of the lights and excitement, but I hope that it might have sparked some questions.

I heard a few more “get a life” comments throughout the evening, which didn’t bother me, but did make me think. We (Americans as a whole) have the right to protest something that we feel is unfair or unjust. I think the people that make those comments probably feel like they are being told they are wrong and get defensive, but to me, utilizing my right to protest is having a life. I’m standing up for what I believe in, and hopefully educating people who didn’t know that cruelty exists in the circus. One woman said she didn’t want to go in to the show anymore after seeing our signs. Her friends talked her back into it, but maybe it will prevent her from buying a ticket in the future.

Protesting the use of animals in the circus made me feel good. Not pat on the head, hooray for me feel good, but even if one person decided they weren’t going to support animal cruelty in the circus then I made a small change. It made me feel like I can use my voice to speak for those who can’t. Was it the most effective way to make a difference? I don’t know, but I felt called to do something. Will I do it again? Absolutely.

If you’re interested in more information about animals in the circus, here are a few resources, including a list of countries that ban animal circuses. There is no shortage of information out there about the reality of what happens to animals in the circus.

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-circus-animal-abuse

https://www.paws.org/get-involved/take-action/explore-the-issues/circus-cruelty/

http://www.ifaw.org/international/news/which-countries-have-bestworst-records-banning-animals-circuses

http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/PDF/RinglingFactsheet.pdf

http://www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com/

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/11/ringing-bros-usda-fine-elephant-abuse

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Circus Protest Circus Protest Circus ProtestCircus ProtestCircus Protest

Thanksgiving Meal Ideas {vegan}

thanksgiving meal ideasThanksgiving can be a really fun or really stressful holiday for vegans. While Thanksgiving is about family and giving thanks, 46 million turkeys are raised just to be slaughtered for this one day. Not to mention the number of undercover videos and charges of animal abuse exposing huge companies like Butterball. I try my best to have a compassionate Thanksgiving. I like having a small “Thanksliving” meal at our house that is completely vegan and cruelty-free. Last year we had a combination of a pre-made Gardein Holiday Roast and a bunch of homemade sides. I’m still debating doing another Gardein roast this year or to do stuffed seitan.

Gardein Stuffed Roast

The following recipes are all either my own recipes, or recipes I’ve tried and would recommend as part of a delicious holiday meal. Whether you are looking to put together a completely vegan spread, or are just looking to make a vegan dish for guests, all of these are guaranteedto please.

And don’t forget to adopt a turkey! This is a Thanksgiving tradition that we started doing 3 years ago. You can adopt up until Nov. 24th and chose email certificate to have it in time for Thanksgiving this year.

Main CoursesDSC_1778

Seitan -Try this one stuffed with shiitakes and leeks.

Harvest Stuffed Portobellos – I made these a few years ago for my mom for Thanksgiving, and we both loved them.

Pot Pie or Shephard’s Pie (I like making the pot pie in a large baking dish instead of ramekins and making drop biscuits for the top)

Pre-made meals like Gardein, Tofurkey, or Field Roast. (We’ve had all of the different Gardein Turk’y varieties and really like them. Just make sure you buy double whatever the serving size says on the package, ie if it says “serves 8” it’s closer to 3-4 real servings.)

Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Sides

Veggies and dip – Slice up some veggies and pair with 1 container of Tofutti Sour Cream and vegetable dip packet of your choice.

Mashed potatoes – Use your normal recipe and sub butter with non-dairy margarine and milk for almond/soy milk.

Mushroom Gravy – I usually skip the wine and just add more broth or water.

Cranberry sauce – If you’ve never had real cranberry sauce, give this super simple recipe a try.

Cranberry Sauce

Stuffing – I love stuffing, this is a great basic recipe. I like to throw in cranberries too.

Deviled potatoes – These are really good!

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts 

“Cheddar” Bay Biscuits

Roasted Veggies

Pumpkin and Corn Curry Soup

Mac and Cheese or this sweet potato mac and cheese

mushrooms8Stuffed Mushrooms

Green Bean Casserole – I do this super simple and roast green beans with minced garlic, onions, and loads of nutritional yeast.

Pumpkin Pie

Desserts

Pumpkin Pie – Make this! It’s simple and amazing.

Cheesecake (or these mini pumpkin cheesecakes)

Apple Pie

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting – This is one of my absolute favorites.

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies

Italian Apple Cake – Another Chloe Coscarelli recipe that is out of this world.

Cranberry Orange/Pineapple Bread – Really good!

Cranberry mini loaf

What will you be eating this Thanksgiving? Do you have any family traditions that you do every year?